What Do You Consider to Be Your Single Most Important Career Investment?

September 7, 2012 // From our blog »

When you start working as a freelance translator you soon realize that your studies and experience are only the foundation of your professional success.  You also need to invest in your business to be successful.  There are several ways in which you can do this, such as taking a business class, attending conferences and events to meet potential clients and colleagues you can work with, becoming a member of a professional association, promoting your business online through a website and social media, and classic advertising, among others.

The single most important career investment I’ve made so far has been joining several professional associations both locally and at the national level.  Although I joined for purely professional reasons, they have enhanced my life not only by offering professional development opportunities but also by allowing me to be part of the larger translation community, enriching my life personally.

Even before you join, associations offer great resources for professionals to improve both as language experts and as entrepreneurs.  They usually offer free information on their websites, including dictionary and book reviews, conference announcements, links to online glossaries and professional blogs, online publications and upcoming industry events.  Some have their own publications and strongly promote our colleagues’ work so that we can read books about translation that we would otherwise never have found out about –they are not exactly bestsellers at the local bookstore-, and recently they started hosting webinars which you can participate in from home at reasonable prices to expand your knowledge in your areas of expertise, as well as your language and computer skills.

They also offer in-person courses and hold regional and national conferences, usually at discounted prices for members.  Thus, allowing you the opportunity to further develop your language and computer skills, discuss common interests with new and seasoned professionals, and even start a fruitful professional relationship.

Professional association events are also a great way to network and develop personal relationships.  I’ve actually met some of my closest friends at these kind of events.  From the start you know you have a lot to talk about as you share the same profession and even hobbies, such as, language learning, reading and traveling.  You can benefit from the experience and guidance of more experienced professionals and you also get the chance to help colleagues by giving advice and/or making recommendations.  You can surely refer colleagues to your clients, which is something that both your colleagues and clients will greatly appreciate.

So, what about you?  What’s been your most important career investment?

For further reading:

ATA’s Mentoring Program

List of FIT-affiliated translation associations in Latin America

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